Monday, November 24, 2008

Too Many connections?

Let me start by saying that I love love love being connected. I first got interested in the power of the Internet in the early 90's, when I was teaching Spanish in a remote area. Wouldn't it be great if we could use the Internet to give the students authentic learning experiences? So I packed up and went to grad school to learn how to use this great medium.

And boy, did I learn. What I learned most is that there are always more ways to learn with the Internet. Social networking is the biggie these days: connecting with people via Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, and various others. And I've got spaces on them all (hey, I have to for work. I love my job.) I found old undergrad buds, elementary school chums, and even former teachers. My dad even found a place where he could reconnect with his service buddies. But is it always a good thing?

I ran into an old grad-school buddy on Facebook, my favorite. She's now on another continent, but Facebook lets us keep in contact. With our first few messages, she asked if I knew where an old friend of ours ended up. An unusual name and a web search meant that I found her in short order and emailed almost immediately. It was a while before I heard back. In that time, I wondered. Does she want to hear from me? Is it possible that hearing from me reminds her of some things that she'd rather forget? I remember the good times we shared. But there are also some other times that are quite difficult for both of us.

Fortunately, she sounded glad to hear from me. She'd been looking for me too. So I dodged a bullet on that one.

The bullet came back today. I got a friend request from someone I'd known most of my life but had not seen in over ten years. The last time I saw him was a rough time, and I wasn't really sure that I would or would even want to hear from him again. When I think of him, I remember not the good times but the last time that I saw him, which was difficult for us both. While curious to know what hands life had dealt him (which is probably the reason he wanted to connect with me), I was unsure about re-establishing contact. (And no, it wasn't dangerous or violent or stalker-ish. It was just...difficult.)

What are the implications of this global connection? Is it good? Or does it mean that we will never have closure?

What do you think? And, more importantly, would you have accepted the friend request?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Remembering Farmington

Following on my last post, Larry Messina at Lincoln Walks at Midnight didn't forget. And a lot of other folks didn't either. His Remembering Farmington post gathers these all together, along with a few details I didn't know.

Thanks, Larry!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Remember: Forty Years Ago

A few years ago, I went to Local Diner and Watering Hole with Mountain Mother and Mountain Daddy. Mountain Daddy saw a man he knew and stopped to talk. I call it the old buddies' talk. "Hey, been a long time since I've seen you/ Yeah, must be since the mine closed/ You're probably what are you doing now?/Working and trying to stay out of trouble, you?/Not me, I retired after the mine closed...enjoying it/Glad to hear; well, good to see you again/yeah, take care." I've heard it perhaps a hundred times.

Mountain Daddy, Mountain Mother and I moved to a booth across the restaurant. After the waitress took our order, Mountain Daddy said, in an almost-whisper: "See that guy I was talking to?"

"Yeah, I don't think I knew him."

"Probably not. I worked with him at the mine. They rescued him from the explosion at Farmington. He and two other men had been trapped for hours."

"! And he went back in?"

"Yeah, he went back in."

What were you doing forty years ago today? Remember? (To be honest, I wasn't doing much. I wasn't born yet.)

If you lived around Marion County, West Virginia, you'd remember. See, forty years ago the Farmington mine #9 (owned by Consolidation Coal Company) exploded, killing 78 men on the cateye (midnight) shift. Even if you weren't there, as I wasn't, you'd remember, as I bet Mountain Daddy's Miner Buddy remembers.

The disaster has touched the area ever since. One Marion County boy, Davitt McAteer, was in law school at WVU at the time. The explosion has marked his life ever since. He made mining safety his life's work and was the director of the Miners' Safety and Health Administration, the agency created in the aftermath of the explosion. In 2006, he completed a book on the disaster in Monongah in 1907. (That was my Christmas present. It's fascinating.)

Another Marion County boy later became governor and still is today. Though I disagree with some (OK, most) of what he does, he has always been a voice for mine safety. He should. Had MSHA been in place, his uncle Joe Gouzd might have been alive. Mr. Gouzd perished in the explosion. In 2006, Governor Manchin was one of the few that could really understand what the Sago Mine disaster families were going through. He'd been there.

It's also affected the kids my age. Fathers and grandfathers were killed, along with uncles and neighbors. I have heard so many stories: one girl's grandfather didn't feel right, so he called in sick. He was spared, while his entire crew perished. I remember seeing a friend's grandmother on a History Channel special. She recalled watching her husband walk to his car and drive to work, never to return.

We remember. We remember the stories and know the faces, recognize the names.

But we're in the minority. I just checked out the History Channel's This Day in History. You won't find a word there. You'll hear about the "Who Shot JR?" storyline on Dallas, but not about the 78 miners who lost their lives. Even the local paper, the Times West Virginian, is silent. This disturbs me. When we don't remember, we can forget. When we forget, we forget not only the event but the lessons of the event.

We're already begun to see the effects of the lessened MSHA codes. Just yesterday I read of the settlement in a wrongful death suit. I wish the wall had been there. And I"m sure the families would prefer their loved ones to the money.

So read this and remember.

More information is on the Wikipedia page
. Unfortunately, several links are dead. We're beginning to forget already.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And look how it turned out for WVU

Under New Management: "More university governing boards are hiring presidents whose career achievements occurred outside of academia as the task of running universities becomes increasingly multifaceted, experts say."

Need I say more?

(Image linked from The Fifth Column).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yes We Can. Yes We Did.

A friend sent this to me today. It brings tears to my eyes.

May the unity of the voices in the video be like the unity of purpose that we have after the celebrations as we settle down to the work of governing our great nation.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The article I wish I'd written

This article from truthout is the blog post I've been planning for a long time. Fortunately someone did it for me. The writer outlines a good bit of what we've been saying about the ridiculous voter identification, the Bradley effect, the machines, and a host of other problems that I don't understand like he does. So go, read, and act!

WV Vote Flipping Caught on Tape

This YouTube video demonstrates how the "out-of-calibration" machines are consistently switching votes to Republican candidates as well as to other candidates.

Look carefully at about the one minute mark, in which a straight Democrat ticket vote results in a McCain presidential vote.

Also note the number of views. Almost half a million. This is what I'd hoped for. The Internet has resulted in the democratization of knowledge. No more do we have to get our news from only approved sources. WE can state the truth and get it out there. As Mulder said, the truth IS out there. WE just need to keep looking for it.